Israel parliament speaker resigns rather than convene a vote

Speaker of the Knesset resigns ‘Supreme court is destroying parliament

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According to Knesset bylaws, the incumbent speaker isn't obligated to bring a vote for a new speaker before parliament until just before a government is established.

The speaker of Israel's parliament, an ally of Benjamin Netanyahu, resigned Wednesday, clearing the way for a vote that could see him replaced by an opponent of the embattled premier.

Netanyahu, who has denied charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, has made no comment on the controversy.

Edelstein said in his resignation letter that the Supreme Court's ruling that demanded he permit a vote on a new speaker "is not based on the letter of the law but on a one-sided and extreme interpretation".

"I won't allow Israel to descend into anarchy. I will not play a part in a civil war".

"I hereby resign from my position as Knesset speaker". "My replacement can do your bidding in 48 hours".

Gantz's centrist Blue and White party petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking to have Edelstein held in contempt.

Edelstein called Peretz on Wednesday to inform him of his expected role change on Friday, and Peretz responded by saying he would be sure to behave in a civic-minded manner, which was a jab - a friendly jab, but a jab nonetheless. He further claimed: "All along, I said I would add the matter to the agenda, but setting a date by the court is severs the possibility of political decision-making".

In an address later Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin said it was "the duty of every one of us to obey the rulings of the courts, and that it is inconceivable that anyone would not do so".

Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, announced he was quitting in a speech to parliament, accusing the court of "gross and arrogant meddling" in legislative affairs by ordering him to schedule a vote for the speaker's position at Wednesday's Knesset session.

Netanyahu has also been accused by detractors of abusing his powers by using the coronavirus as cover to take steps such as putting the courts on an emergency footing in order to delay the March 17 start of his graft trial by two months.

That proved impossible following two previous elections a year ago, given the deep divisions within the anti-Netanyahu bloc which includes the mainly Arab Joint List and its bitter rival, the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Despite the divides within the anti-Netanyahu camp, it has been unified in backing legislation that would bar anyone under criminal indictment from serving as prime minister.

Netanyahu has called for an emergency government uniting Likud and Blue and White under his leadership to weather the virus outbreak.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit argued at noon time that Edelstein's resignation "does not absolve him from carrying out the court's ruling", which he must do in full.

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